As promising as Dios' mix of indie rock, psychedelia, and Californian pop was on their Arboles EP, the group's self-titled first full-length is even more ambitious and accomplished. Dios is a darker and more complex take on the band's unmistakably Californian sound; even the poppiest songs, like "Starting Five" -- which carries within it the musical DNA of Golden State bands from the Beach Boys to Pavement -- have a lingering melancholy. Much has been made of Dios' obsession with the Beach Boys, and they don't downplay it on the album. If anything, they emphasize it with the album's elaborate production, and even go as far as quoting the a cappella breakdown of Pet Sounds' "You Still Believe in Me" in the middle of "50 Cents." And like the band's idols (who also hailed from their hometown of Hawthorne, CA), Dios also make music perfect for cruising, although the band's sound suggests dusk and smog more than surf and sun; it's no mistake that the covers for both Dios and Arboles depict urban California sunsets. Keyboards, and especially Jimmy Cabeza DeVaca's Rhodes piano, play a much bigger role on Dios than they did on Arboles. They give the breakup lament "Nobody's Perfect" an elegant darkness that makes it an apt soundtrack to late-night driving, and the station-to-station chatter that pops up throughout the album only heightens the effect. As has been mentioned before, Neil Young is another prime influence on Dios' music, and his presence is felt in the guitar heroics of "Meeting People," as well as the plaintive country-rock of "Birds" and "You Make Me Feel." But Dios also incorporate less classicist sounds and ideas into their music: while there are definitely connections to contemporary sonic whizzes like the Flaming Lips and Grandaddy, Dios' dense harmonies and keyboards hint at the poppier side of prog rock like ELO and the Alan Parsons Project. These proggy leanings (which reak their peak on the epic "The Uncertainty") and the breathy delicacy of "Just Another Girl" also suggest loose ties to Air's ethereal romanticism. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the wide array of sounds and influences present in the group's music, Dios is a remarkably holistic-sounding debut. The two songs that were carried over from Arboles are, not surprisingly, the most quintessentially Dios tracks on the album. "All Is Said and Done" is cushioned by layers of keyboards and harmonies, while "You'll Get Yours" remains the band's saddest, funniest, and most beautiful song, featuring what might be the loveliest delivery of the words "f*ck all that sh*t" ever recorded, as well as a slight vintage Latin rock influence. At times the album places atmosphere over immediately catchy songs, making it more subtle than might have been expected based on Arboles. However, this just makes it easier -- and more rewarding -- to listen to Dios repeatedly.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares